AirBnb should require hosts to publish the true size of their properties, in terms of both square meters and square feet. It is a given that all hosts use wide-angle lenses to make the spaces seem larger than they are, forcing us to discount the photos when evaluating listings. However, some hosts use these photos to intentionally mislead prospective visitors, even putting words like "vast" and "spacious" in their descriptions, when the spaces are anything but. We just returned from a European trip where we stayed in 13 AirBnbs, and four of these were listed with photos that made the apartments look palatial, whereas in reality there wasn't even enough space to open our suitcases.
I think that AirBnb should mandate all hosts to include the precise size of their lodgings, which is the only way one can evaluate the accompanying photos in context. To not do so is to aid and abet unscrupulous hosts in misrepresenting their properties - which may be good for their pocketbooks (and for AirBnb's bottom line), but is not a good practice for long-term client retention.
@Richard1826 "It is a given that all hosts use wide-angle lenses to make the spaces seem larger than they are"
Actually, I don't. I much prefer to let potential guests see what they will really get; in fact, some of my photos make the rooms look smaller than they really are.
To your bigger point, AirBNB is not likely to mandate much of anything. They want to get bookings; not set up obstacles to clicking that "Buy Now" button.
@Richard1826What you suggest is likely not a bad idea, as it would certainly lead to fewer disappointed guests for hosts who do engage in such photographic trickery. Like @Susan151 , I do not, as I want my guests to know exactly what they're getting. It's unlikely that such an idea will ever be mandatory, but perhaps as hosts we should be proactive on this. Thanks for the idea.
I had a look through the listings of 10 airbnbs you stayed at (perhaps the others have not yet had mutual reviews, and are not yet appearing in your profile?). I could tell from the photos that 5 of these listings were certainly quite small - the listings in Naples, Ancona, Venice, Santa Maria and the Airbnb Plus in Rome all looked quite "cozy" from the photos. The Ancona apartment definitely looked challenging with such sloped ceilings. I'm not sure, however, that the hosts of these places were being unscrupulous, or misleading with their photos. They seemed fairly representative - these 5 anyway.
Apartment size can be very subjective, and people can certainly err when they look at listings and their photos, but actual measurements would help. What they would NOT help with though, are perhaps places that have very generous square footage, but perhaps most of that sq. ft. is somewhere useless, such as foyers, vestibules and hallways. As you are clearly someone to whom size matters, your feedback on this would be appreciated. Would you suggest that hosts list individual room sizes, rather than an overall square measurement? Or might you find a listing would be overly cumbersome to read with such a wealth of detail?
We stayed in 13 of them, but for some there were no reviews from either party. When we had a negative experience I tried to put it behind me rather than write a negative review (my mistake, I know). IMO, the worst offender was this one: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/39910931. Doesn't the place look big in the photos? Well, there was no space to open even one suitcase on the floor. Not to mention that the place was dirty and cold, and did not supply even one blanket for the bed in December.
While square footage per room would be ideal, I would settle for the total area of the property. With that figure and the photos, one can at least extrapolate the comfort level of the property.
Thanks for your response, @Richard1826 . I will be heading downstairs to my listing tomorrow, tape measure in hand 🙂
I'm afraid I'm not able to pull that listing up from the link. Perhaps it's been delisted. Shame, as I would've liked to see the photos.
@Richard1826: "While square footage per room would be ideal, I would settle for the total area of the property."
I will agree that listing the the square footage of the actual living space would be nice I don't really see why listing the property size is helpful. Ours would look like this.
Guest Suite: 800 sqft.
Property: 10,500 sqft.
@Richard1826 " It is a given that all hosts use wide-angle lenses to make the spaces seem larger than they are". ?????? No, that is not a given at all. I wouldn't dream of using a wide-angle lens and misrepresenting the space. Most responsible, experienced hosts are of the mind-set that misrepresenting the space leads to guest complaints and bad reviews, so if anything, we try to underpromise and overdeliver. I've had guests walk into the private room /private bath I list and say "Oh. This is much nicer than what I expected." Any intelligent host realizes that getting these kinds of comments from guests is far preferable than luring them in with false advertising and having them be disappointed.
There was even a post on this forum a while back where a host, who seemed to be trying to advertise her own personal business, started a topic saying that hosts should do exactly what you are objecting to- use a wide-angle lens to make the space appear larger. Every response to that post from other hosts was negative, saying we thought that was a really bad idea, a deceptive thing to do.
Sorry for generalizing about hosts that misrepresent their properties by the photos. The people who replied to this post do not do it, but of course this is a highly self-selected group of conscientious hosts.
@Jennifer1421 : You are correct that the property I mentioned in Paris has been de-listed, and others are not able to access it. Here is one that can be accessed in Barcelona: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19053607 . To be honest, in retrospect, I should have been able to understand the photos in the context of AirBnB properties, but this was the first time we stayed in a place with great photos and small spaces. From that point on, we learned to analyze photos more intelligently, but were still "fooled" in two of our later stays.
Actually the properties in Naples, Venice and Cape Verde/Santa Maria were all fine, and we were not at all disappointed by these accommodations. The flat in Venice was spectacular, and the photos presented were valid representations of the internal spaces.
@Richard1826 a simple solution would be to choose listings with "verified by Airbnb" stamped on the photos.
These have been taken by an airbnb photographer, who is not allowed to even use extra lighting to improve the images.
I'm another host that uses no photo trickery.
@Mike-And-Helen0 I wish that were true! I made an unfortunate mistake of using an Airbnb photographer who distorted the pictures beyond recognition. Wide lens galore, washing the pictures out to where I could barely recognize this pace myself. In one picture I saw yellow bananas on plates in the dining room. It took me a second to realize they were my dark brown napkins.
I think reviews is the best to combat deception.
@Mike-And-Helen0 definitely not true... at least in the US, any professional real estate photographer, including any sent by Airbnb, will use a wide-angle lens for interior shots. Personally, I disagree with those who characterize this as "trickery." A normal lens distorts in other ways; for most interior spaces it's impossible to get enough distance to get a shot not completely consumed by things in the foreground or one that includes more than a small part of the room, so you can't get a real sense of the whole space.
(My listings include wide-angle views, which I personally think are more accurate/informative-- but I also include square footage in the descriptions. I don't want guests to be disappointed or post a review or comment saying that the photos were misleading, and none has.)
In any case, it's pretty obvious when looking at a photo whether it's a wide-angle shot, so in this as in so many other areas the great thing about Airbnb is guests can choose hosts and listings compatible with their preferences.
@Richard1826 That property in Barcelona that you posted the link to- it is run by a property management company that has 8 listings. This kind of deception is practiced much more often by these type of entities than by private hosts. The descriptions usually read like real estate ads, purely extolling the virtues of the place, without mentioning any of the possible negatives (every property has some aspects to it that may make it less than perfect). Private hosts tend to be more forthcoming with information that could be deal breakers for guests, as we don't want dissatisfied guests and poor reviews and because we put our own time, effort and $ into our listings, we try to attract guests who will be a good fit, as if they are unhappy, we tend to take it personally. If we live in an area that is noisy, we'll state that, if it's a 20 minute walk to the nearest grocery store, we want to make sure guests are clear on that point.
So in your future bookings, you might want to look more at listings which are run by private hosts, rather than property managers with a large portfolio of listings.
I'm curious as to whether the other places that had deceptive photos were also run by property management agencies.